Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not Just a Clever Name

I try to be a reasonable person, citizen, customer, etc. When I am wronged, inconvenienced, etc., I try not to be excitable or take it out on the customer service person. I don't usually demand anything for my inconvenience, I simply want it made right by someone who takes ownership of the problem (remind me to tell you the story of how amazing Peet's was when I tried unsuccessfully to send some coffee to em in Columbus... short version: they were unbelievably amazing and it wasn't even their problem), but tonight I got a little irritated with Cox (the not simply cleverly-named company).

My wife noticed that our cable had gone out. This has happened a handful of times but it hadn't happened for a while. When we moved two years ago, we were told to simply bring our settop box with us. Six months or so after that, our cable went out: a random sweep of customers didn't have this box registered to the account at this address. Sigh...

So, when no amount of cable tightening, box power cycling, cat cursing (under the theory that she had dislodged something crawling around behind the television; she knows better, we've discussed this, but I saw her there today) fixed the problem, I called Cox expecting something similar. It was different this time. It didn't recognize me based on our phone number. I got someone on the phone ("agent!"... "agent!") and she couldn't find the account either.

Eventually, going through the address (I had started to have my pique raised at this point, I've been a customer for four years), she found my info. It said I had ceased to be, I was no more, I was an ex-customer.

You see, apparently I had issued a disconnect order because I was moving. Except I didn't and I wasn't. The helpless technical service person struggled to explain it and couldn't. She punted and sent me to sales thinking I was perhaps an evil menace who ordered disconnects and reconnects for fun (and the technical folks like sending the crazies to sales).

I explained who I was and what my problem was yet again to someone who asked me if I'd moved and then put me on hold ("We've got another crazy, Marge!"). Eventually, someone else (Jessica), answered the phone and inquired if she could help me (I was transferred with no context). At this point, pique passes into pissed-offedness. I am having to spend way too much time reiterating my problem. To her credit, Jessica discovers the problem quickly, realizes it was their mistake, takes my number and promises to call me back with a window for them to have a tech come back and reinstate the service ("I'm not dead yet!").

As promised, she called back and informed me I was out of luck until tomorrow. As I had been looking forward to watching the Giants play the Astros tonight, I was now feeling particularly inconvenienced.

"I'm sorry, we can't get anyone out there until tomorrow, but is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Yes, do you have the number for DirectTV?"

"No, sir, I do not have that number."

Now I am irritated that she missed the dark humor of my question. At a minimum, I wanted a credit for the day; I don't want to pay for service I am not getting. When I mention this, Jessica adopts a new tone (roughly, "Duh!"): "Sir, you are not being charged for service you aren't receiving." This tone doesn't sit well with me. I mumble something about that being a charitable way of compensating me for their mistake (and having wasted 40 minutes now resolving it). So, she decides she has to offer me something else.

"Well, sir, I can offer you the Internet for $19 a month for three months."

And that is what set me off.

#1) I already have Cox Business Cable Services for which I pay them over $100 a month
#2) They took the opportunity to compensate me for their mistake with an *UPSELL*!

I point out the fact that I am already a customer (clearly their CRM systems are not linked), so this is not something I am interested in and she apparently has nothing to offer me.

"Sir, I am offering you the Internet for three months for $19 a month".

Well, with apologies to Mr. Morrissey, that joke wasn't funny anymore and I lost my cool. I wasn't rude. I told her I understood it wasn't her fault, but that I was just fed up with companies wasting my time for their mistake. How difficult would it be for a corporation to empower their people to make things right when it was *CLEARLY* their fault? Answer: It is apparently not difficult because Peet's employs a helpful woman named Susan who was empowered to fix something that wasn't their problem.

Six months later, I am still in awe and can't recommend Peet's enough. Their coffee is absolutely fantastic and worth every penny (I kid you not, if you think that chain is "good coffee", you owe it to yourself to order some Peet's. It will be roasted on the day you order it and you will thank me for a lifetime), but their customer service is worth even more.

This is why I can recommend Peet's to you and not a bunch of Cox.